Water births are gaining popularity in Singapore as it holds the promise of an enjoyable experience for labour and birth. The baby is born in warm water of body temperature, which is 37 degrees Celsius. What are the benefits of a water birth?
According to the American Pregnancy Association:
Benefits for the mother:
- Warm water is soothing, comforting, relaxing and helps her reduce the use of pain relief drugs.
- In later stages of labor, water has been shown to increase the woman’s energy levels.
- Effect of buoyancy lessens a mother’s body weight, allowing free movement and positioning.
- Buoyancy promotes overall relaxation and more efficient uterine contractions. It also improves blood circulation resulting in better oxygenation of the uterine muscles. Less pain for the mother, and more oxygen for the baby.
- Immersion in water often helps lower high blood pressure caused by anxiety.
- The water seems to reduce stress-related hormones, allowing the mother’s body to produce endorphins which serve as pain-inhibitors.
- Warm water causes the perineum to become more elastic and relaxed, reducing the incidence and severity of tearing and the need for an episiotomy and stitches.
- As the laboring woman relaxes physically, she is able to relax mentally with greater ability to focus on the birth process.
- Since the water provides a greater sense of privacy, it can reduce inhibitions, anxiety, and fears.
Benefits for the baby:
- Provides a warm fluid environment similar to that in the amniotic sac.
- Eases the stress of birth, thus increasing reassurance and sense of security.
Water birth babies are known for being calm and laid-back at birth.
There are two main hospitals in Singapore currently supporting water births, Thomson Medical Centre(TMC) and National University Hospital (NUH). At NUH, they can provide an inflatable tub with a liner to provide a relaxing, safe birth option if you prefer the inflatable tub to their stationary one. They have one large water birthing suite with a large built-in birthing tub (enough space for both mom and dad to get into the water) and other delivery rooms with smaller built-in tubs. You can choose to set up the inflatable birth pool, if there is sufficient time and usually, it requires the expertise of a doula or midwife. At NUH, they request that you either hire a doula for additional support or sign up with the EMMa Care midwifery program (Cost is $1,500) for assistance with a water birth. You may email your enquiries about EMMa Care to firstname.lastname@example.org.
NUH also offers:
- birth stool (donated by ParentLink)
- birth ball (likewise)
- light dimmers
- thermostat control in the waterbirth room
- yoga mats
- essential oil diffuser
- microwave for heating up rice socks (heat pads)
- Baby Friendly Accreditation
Thomson Medical Centre has 2 spacious water birthing delivery suites – Room 6 and Room 15. Room 15 is the bigger room with more space for an active labour and a birthing ball or stool. At TMC, they do not require that you hire a doula for a water birth. All the attending nurses and midwives on hand are fully trained in assisting with a water birth. Usually, one nurse or midwife will be with you once the mother has entered the water. This is only allowed after 5cm dilation of the cervix.
TMC also offers:
- birth stool
- birth ball
- essential oil diffuser
- CD player
- Microwave for heating up rice socks (heat pads)